STARGAZERS have an incredible opportunity this weekend to see this spring’s first full moon.
April’s Pink Moon will illuminate the sky from early Friday to Monday morning, according to NASA.
The moon will be at its peak fullness on Saturday around 2.55pm, but it will be highly visible that evening after sunset at 8.27pm.
Those who want to see the display should “find an open area and watch as the Moon rises just above the horizon, at which point it will appear its biggest and take on a golden hue,” according to the Old Farmers’ Almanac.
The Pink Moon is just one of the two celestial displays to look forward to in the coming days.
The Lyrids meteor shower and a full pink moon will both grace night skies above the US this week.
The Lyrid meteor shower is set to begin tonight, before peaking on April 22 when about 18 “shooting stars” will appear per hour.
Read our pink moon and Lyrids meteor shower live blog for the latest news and updates…
Pink Moon’s folklore
The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that “a full moon in April brings frost. If the full moon rises pale, expect rain.”
Will it look pink?
The Pink Moon should look bright and full in the sky but won’t necessarily be pink.
In fact, it will look much like any other full moon.
Pink Moon’s name
Tribes kept track of the seasons with distinct names for each month’s full moon.
Pink Moon’s name comes from the moss pink herb, or wild ground phlox flower, which is widespread by spring.
Other names for this particular orb include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon or the Full Fish Moon.
This year’s Pink Moon will be visible on the evening of April 16, kicking off about half an hour before sunset at 8.27 p.m.
The practice of naming full moons dates back to Native American culture.
Tribes kept track of the seasons with distinct names for each month’s full moon.
Because a moon month is slightly shorter than our calendar months, the dates of the full moons shift slightly from year-to-year.
But months they appear in stay the same, and every year we see a Pink Moon in April.
What is a meteor shower?
Meteor showers take place when space rocks, also known as meteoroids, enter the Earth’s atmosphere. When there are numerous rocks at the same time, it’s called a meteor shower.
Meteoroids are often so small they burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, so there is little chance of a collision.
Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the rocks appear to be coming from.
How to watch a meteor shower, continued
When trying to observe the showers, always look toward the radiant (where the meteor originates). The shower is usually named after the radiant constellation.
Most meteors can be seen with the naked eye, so don’t worry if you don’t have expensive equipment.
However, binoculars and telescopes can help you get an even closer look.
How to watch a meteor shower
The darker location you visit, the brighter the meteors will appear in the sky, so plan accordingly.
Check the lunar calendar before the event, because if the moon is too bright during its full or gibbous phase, it may obscure the view.
With all meteor showers, dry, clear skies are also key.
When will the Lyrids shower begin?
The dazzling Lyrid meteor shower is set to begin on April 14 and you can spot the shooting stars throughout this month.
This year’s showing will continue until April 30 and is due to peak on the night of April 22, when about 18 “shooting stars” will appear per hour.
What are the Lyrids? continued
You don’t necessarily need to look in a certain area as the meteors can appear all over the sky.
The Lyrid shower is one of the oldest known, with records of visible meteors going back 2,700 years.
The best time to spot the meteors is early in the morning or in the evening before the moon rises.
What are the Lyrids?
The Lyrids happen each April and occur when Earth’s orbit takes it through a comet’s tail.
The meteor shower is made from falling debris from the comet Thatcher.
It gets its name from the Lyra constellation as sometimes the meteors look like they’re radiating from a place near that location.
Earth phases v. Moon phases
The Earth, as seen from the Moon, also goes through phases.
Earth’s phases are interestingly the exact opposite of the Moon’s phases.
Therefore, when it’s a new Moon for us, it’s a ‘full Earth’ to the Moon; a full Moon to us is a ‘new Earth’ from the Moon.
The Moon keeps Earth from wobbling
One of the most important things the Moon does for Earth is it stabilizes the planet’s rotation.
When the Earth rotates, it slightly teeters back and forth on its axis.
However, thanks to the Moon’s gravitational pull, our planet stays relatively balanced.
The nearest galaxy
The nearest galaxy comparable to the Milky Way is the Andromeda Galaxy, which is 2.5million lightyears away.
If there is intelligent life in Andromeda viewing us here on Earth, their observations are of our planet 2.5million years in the past.
How quickly does light travel?
Light travels extremely fast, but the expanse of space is so large that it takes several seconds or even minutes for light from within our solar system to reach Earth.
A lightyear–the distance light travels in one year–is roughly one trillion miles.
Light from the Sun needs over eight minutes to reach Earth.
Looking back in time, continued
As a result, the version we see of the Moon from Earth is actually what it looked like roughly 1.3 seconds prior.
In this sense, you’re actually looking back in time every time you look at the Moon without even realizing it.
Looking back in time
The Moon is illuminated by light rays coming from the Sun and reflecting onto the Earth’s surface.
Visible light rays travel at 186,000 miles per second, meaning light needs more than one second after it’s been reflected off the Moon’s surface to travel to Earth.
Photo of the moon on April 12
A photographer shared a photo taken of the moon on April 12, just days before the pink moon.
Meteor shower schedule
Meteorologist Eric Snitil shared a schedule of when the 10 biggest meteor showers of the year are set to occur.
Shining a light
Stars generate their own light, but planets and moons do not.
Planets and moons shine by reflecting a portion of the sunlight they receive back into space.
The brightness of the planet depends on its distance from the sun, the size of the planet, and the position of the planet and Earth.
Picking a stargazing app
Stargazing apps for Android and iPhone include: SkyView Lite, Star Tracker, and Star Walk 2.
Some apps are free but a lot of them charge, so it all depends if you want to put up with advertisements or pay to get rid of them while you’re trying to behold the sky.
It’s advisable to read the reviews of an app and look at how many people have rated it before deciding to download.
What’s the best moon phase for stargazing?
According to EarthSky.org, it depends on what you want to do.
Some individuals like seeing the moon change shape in our sky as it waxes and wanes.
At certain times of the month, the moon appears near brilliant stars and planets, which some people appreciate.
Relationship between planets and stars, continued
Stars all differ from each other, as do galaxies, and indeed planets, so we can’t just multiply information about our own galaxy or solar system.
Planets may be gaseous or rocky, boiling or frozen, and may orbit close to their star or billions of miles out.
Relationship between planets and stars
For several reasons, astronomers work on the assumption that one planet exists for every star, though in reality some stars will have no orbiting planets and others many.
There are at least 400 billion stars in our own galaxy, so trillions in the entire universe.
What is the significance of a full moon? continued
“Spiritually speaking, that opposition — between yin and yang, light and dark — makes for a potent time for surrender and a heightened sense of emotionality. As such, full moons are synonymous with closure and endings; of cycles, habits, relationships.”
Because the full moon phase is when the moon is at its most powerful, it is important to take the time to release negative energy and focus on your manifestations.
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